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Later Alterations

Since it was opened in 1858 there have been many changes made to the Town Hall.  

1864-1867 In 1864 The Privy Council decided that the West Riding Assizes would be held in Leeds. This meant that more cells would be needed in the Bridewell, and cells were built beneath the steps at the main entrance. The steps were re-modelled in the process. The original steps built straight across the front, were altered to a curved shape. The police station was moved, and a new entrance made from Victoria Square on the east side of the building. A similar entrance was added on the west side.

1867 Four stone lions made of Portland stone were added to the four plinths beside the main entrance. The sculptor was William Day Keyworth; the lions cost 550.

1877 Movement of council offices to Municipal buildings.

1890 The balcony in the Victoria Hall was replaced by a larger structure to the design of W H Thorp.

1894 The Victoria Hall was redecorated by John Dibble Crace, the son of the original decorator.

1908 Changes made to plumbing and sanitary arrangements. New toilets added.

1933 The Civic Hall was opened, with a new council chamber, and took over many of the functions of the Town Hall. The mayor's office was moved there, as were the offices of council officials. At the Town Hall the Council chamber functioned as  a Crown court until the combined Court House opened in Oxford Row.

1937 1941 The steps were altered again, back to their original shape. By this time the police station accommodation had become inadequate. The cells were so poorly ventilated that the stench from them reached the court rooms above; scented flowers were placed on the judges benches to counteract the smell. More cells were built, and the walls of both cells and corridors were glazed with white tiles. The original ventilation system was replaced.

1971-72 Exterior stonework cleaned.

1978-79 Victoria Hall Restoration
In September 1978 the condition of the plasterwork on the ceiling and walls of the Victoria Hall began to cause concern. Pieces were falling off into the hall, and some of the ornamentation had come loose, and was potentially dangerous. The hall was closed and a detailed inspection made. It was found that the plasterwork had deteriorated badly. It was decided to restore or replace the damaged plaster, and to completely redecorate the hall and the vestibule. This was done, making sure that the original designs were reproduced exactly. As sections of ornamentation were removed each was individually recorded, by taking photographs, and making clay impressions. Exact replicas could then be made.  

Despite Cuthbert Brodrick's attention to detail, and insistence on good workmanship, several examples of poor supervision and bad workmanship were found in the original plasterwork. Insufficient reinforcement had been used when mixing the plaster, and some of the masonry was out of line. The designs for the original decorations had been lost, so a scheme for the redecoration in 1895 by John Dibble Crace was used. The modern decoration differs from Crace's scheme only in the decorations over the semi-circular window at the back of the hall. The arms of the seven local authorities which merged with Leeds are shown instead of the original coat of arms of the city and the arms of the local craft guilds.

1995-2000 Extensive restoration and refurbishment of the building was carried out to improve standards of comfort and provide new facilities. This included improved acoustics, the  building of new boxes in the Victoria Hall, and the restoration of the floor in the vestibule.
Click images to enlarge
Original design with straight steps, 1858
Original design with straight steps, 1858
Steps after alteration, 1902
Steps after alteration, 1902
Steps after alterations in 1937
Steps after alterations in 1937
Refurbished Victoria Hall, 1979
Refurbished Victoria Hall, 1979
Entrance Screen, 1979
Entrance Screen, 1979
Vestibule floor tiles
Vestibule floor tiles
Vestibule ceiling
Vestibule ceiling




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© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003